Let’s get right to it: Tasigur, the Golden Fang is the best card in Standard. Sorry, Siege Rhino, but four mana is too much to pay for a 4/5. Tasigur plus Satyr Wayfinder is the new Sylvan Caryatid plus Courser of Kruphix. And Sidisi Whip is the best shell for Tasigur and Wayfinder.

Grand Prix Denver was the last time I played Standard, but the format looked awesome during the coverage of Grand Prix Memphis, which I watched from my hotel room in Vancouver on Sunday night. I had my eye on a local PPTQ last weekend and Sultai Control was calling my name. I picked up some new cards while I was in Vancouver (yay favorable exchange rate!) but didn’t quite have everything for Sultai Control. After a busy week where I wasn’t able to finish out the deck, I was not ready to sleeve up Sultai Control and decided to go back to my old favorite deck, Sidisi Whip.

Richard Tan and illustrious streamer SGDoc had been telling everyone that Sidisi Whip was very well positioned in the current metagame, and I didn’t need much convincing. Tasigur is the card to play, and Sidisi Whip is the deck to play it in. I made some tweaks to the list Rich shared with the Team Draft League, and here’s what I took to the PPTQ:

Ghost Ridin' the Whip

Creatures (23)
Satyr Wayfinder
Sylvan Caryatid
Courser of Kruphix
Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Torrent Elemental
Hornet Queen
Doomwake Giant

Spells (13)
Whip of Erebos
Murderous Cut
Sultai Charm
Hero’s Downfall
Thoughtseize
Lands (24)
Opulent Palace
Temple of Malady
Temple of Mystery
Llanowar Wastes
Yavimaya Coast
Mana Confluence
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Polluted Delta
Forest
Swamp
Island

Sideboard (15)
Bile Blight
Disdainful Stroke
Crux of Fate
Negate
Thoughtseize
Drown in Sorrow
Reclamation Sage
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Kiora, the Crashing Wave

Sidisi Whip is a very powerful deck that has fallen off people’s radars. The deck does three related things very well that make it a top tier choice. First, it gains massive card advantage through creature-based graveyard recursion. Second, it gains massive tempo advantage by cheating on mana through delve and Whip of Erebos reanimating Hornet Queen. Third, it trumps opposing removal by having a lot of targets that still produce value through recursion.

The deck got some big upgrades in Fate Reforged. Most important is Tasigur. This deck very easily casts Tasigur for one mana, often as the second spell of the turn. Both Satyr Wayfinder and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant make Tasigur easy to cast. Once he’s in play, he attacks well, gains four life a hit with Whip of Erebos in play, blocks almost everything that can attack you, and provides an extra mana sink that can help get back spells and also make zombies off Sidisi. You often won’t get a great card back off his ability, but as long as you delve away the worst ones you’ll get something pretty good.

More subtly, Tasigur and Sidisi work incredibly well together. They want to play the same style of game. Both cards can be very aggressive and shine in an explosive draw while also being quite powerful if they sit on board into the long game. And both are best friends with Satyr Wayfinder. One of the strengths of this deck is how it can win explosively or grind out a very long game. How does your opponent make mulligan decisions when they have to fear both an early rush and a nearly unbeatable late-game engine? What sideboard cards do they want? Sidisi Whip is hard to play against, and Tasigur makes both the explosive and grindy gameplans stronger.

torrent

You cannot stop the Torrentula.

Torrent Elemental also shines in the deck. Tapping down all opposing creatures when it attacks is game-breaking and makes it unnecessary to kill or clear out opposing defenses with stuff like Pharika, God of Affliction plus Doomwake Giant. Combine the Torrentula with a Whip and your opponent will have a hard time racing you. Having it in the graveyard with an active whip always threatens a huge unblockable attack out of nowhere. And if they try to kill it, it won’t stay dead for long. Plus as a 3/5 flier it can sit back and block the all the annoying fliers that give Sidisi Whip trouble: Flamewake Phoenix, Ashcloud Phoenix, Stormbreath Dragon, Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, Wingmate Roc, Manits Rider, etc etc. Before Fate Reforged, your only answers to flying threats were removal or Hornet Queen, and those don’t work that well against Sarkhan or the phoenixes.

There’s really only two ways to deal with Torrent Elemental right now: either you send it to the graveyard while keeping Whip of Erebos off the table, or you tempo it out by exiling it and attacking very quickly. In the first cast, you have to hope they can’t delve the Torrentula back into exile. I had one play against Dimir Control where I used Murderous Cut on my own Satyr Wayfinder so that I could delve my two Torrent Elementals and then recast them. This works even if they counter the delve spell, which is nice. The second method is the most effective. Even something like Chained to the Rocks can beat Torrent Elemental because you end up spending ten mana to cast it then bring it back from exile, but then it is tapped, and that opens the door for two big attacks with Seeker of the Way and friends.

Fate Reforged also add Crux of Fate to the deck’a arsenal. It’s better as a sideboard card because sweeping the board doesn’t line up well with your main plan for victory, but Crux of Fate really helps strengthen tough matchups against other green decks that flood the board with big threats. Torrent Elemental is the more important card for green matchups, but Crux does great work, especially against mana dorks and lands animated by Nissa, Worldwaker.

Sylvan Caryatid is the worst card in the deck. Think of it this way: what is the first card that you choose to delve away in almost every situation? Sylvan Caryatid by far. If you ever activate Tasigur with a Caryatid in the graveyard, you can be pretty sure that’s the card you’ll get back. You will never whip it back, unless you are desperate for blue mana or something. And if you draw one after turn three or four you will almost always want to rip it up and punch yourself in the face. The only card you ever want to delve away more than Caryatid is Torrent Elemental. Because of this, I went down to three in the deck and added a twenty-fourth land in its place.

At the PPTQ I ended up losing in the semifinals of the Top 8 to Brandon Nelson and his Red White deck. The matchup is generally favorable for Sidisi Whip, but Red White is a great deck and can often win with Seeker of the Way backed up with removal and burn. Even though they have Outpost Siege to go long, they really have to win quickly against Sidisi, using Chained to the Rocks to regain tempo advantage. I drew threat-light hands in both games against Brandon and he ran me over. We actually had a rematch the next day in a Star City Invitational Qualifier, and I won easily in two when I had the better draws. And I won the other two RW matchups I played on the weekend.

During the Swiss of the PPTQ, I defeated Abzan Aggro, Red White, Mardu Midrange, and Abzan Control before double-drawing into the top 8. The deck felt incredible for the metagame and I never came close to losing a match. In the quarterfinals I beat an interesting Jeskai brew based around Frost Walker, Shaman of the Great Hunt, Flamewake Phoenix, and Stubborn Denial. That was a tough matchup but I was able to win with aggressive Wayfinder plus Tasigur draws.

The next day at the IQ I went 4-2 finishing in 11th out of 50. I beat Four Color Control, Red White twice, and Mono-Green Devotion. I lost to Dimir Control and Green-Black Constellation. The IQ meta was a little more hostile, with multiple green-based devotionish decks that are annoying to face, and the constellation deck with Pharika that I somehow almost beat but never want to face.

devo

Whip that Standard meta!

If you are looking for a deck for Grand Prix Miami or other Standard tournaments, I highly recommend Sidisi Whip. Here’s a rundown of the cards that are best against you and how to play against them.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is tough but not game over. Between the two tournaments, I went 4-2 in games where my opponent resolved Ugin. Out of a blue-based control deck, either Dimir or Sultai, Ugin is a death sentence unless you have the immediate Hero’s Downfall because they have the counterspells to protect it and keep you from redeveloping your board. But against mono-green or Abzan decks, Ugin is annoying but not devastating.

Sidisi Whip has a number of tools to fight Ugin. First, you can always win quickly with explosive draws. Second, you can Thoughtseize or post-board Disdainful Stroke him, and there’s also Hero’s Downfall to keep him from being more than a sweeper. But the best card against Ugin is Torrent Elemental as it can come back and attack Ugin, usually killing it in a few turns. Tasigur is also strong against Ugin because they have to take Ugin down to one loyalty to get rid of Tasigur. When I beat an Ugin, it was usually by playing a Tasigur first to “protect” myself, forcing my opponent to either minus-six or do something else like minus-zero to kill tokens. If you play the deck by not committing too many of your actual threat cards at once, Ugin won’t be too devastating. Sure he wipes out Whip, but as long as your board is mostly tokens and Wayfinders plus one big threat, you don’t care that much.

Cheap efficient threats of out Abzan Aggro are difficult, but Tasigur and Crux of Fate help the matchup immeasurably. It is still an unfavorable matchup for Sidisi Whip, but now it it much closer than before, and I won my matchup against it at the PPTQ quite easily. I had good draws, but in the past you couldn’t even hope for that.

Whisperwood Elemental is quite annoying as well if you can’t kill it immediately. You can blank most of the manifests by blocking with zombie tokens or Tasigur or whatever, but any of them could turn out to be Polukranos. Whisperwood makes your Crux of Fate worse and their Ugin minus better. But in the end you still have plenty of removal and Torrent Elemental to clear the path for attacks.

The other problem cards are the suite of fliers I mentioned before: Mantis Rider, Flamewake Phoenix, Ashcloud Phoenix, Stormbreath Dragon, Wingmate Roc, and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker. Torrent Elemental helps a ton, in tandem with Hornet Queen. It also helps that nobody plays Mantis Rider anymore.

In sum, the dangerous matchups for Sidisi Whip are blue-based control, Green-Black constellation, Abzan aggro, and decks with aggressive red fliers. Abzan aggro isn’t even that bad, and Sidisi Whip is happy to play the other flavors of Abzan. Siege Rhino is not what it used to be. Red-White is a good matchup as well. Mono-Green is tricky but leaves plenty of room to win through skillful play. If I were going to Miami I’d be running this deck back and be happy to do it.

Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.

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